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Andy Murray insists Leon Smith’s appointment does not necessarily mean Davis Cup return

If Leon Smith did not already know that taking on the job as Britain’s Davis Cup captain was going to be a difficult task, the words of Andy Murray yesterday will surely have convinced him.

The 34-year-old, who coached Murray as a teenager, was yesterday confirmed as the replacement for John Lloyd, who stood down in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat by Lithuania last month.

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But Murray, who missed that tie, said that he would continue to make his decisions on a match-by-match basis, meaning he is far from certain to play in the tie against Turkey in July, a contest Britain must win to avoid hitting rock bottom in the competition.

That will surely have disappointed the Lawn Tennis Association, who whatever they say in public must privately have hoped that the installation of Smith would act as a catalyst for Murray’s return to the fold.

“I think I’ll make a decision a bit closer to the time,” said Murray in Monte Carlo, where tomorrow he will begin his title bid in the Masters Series event, against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. “I think that’s one of the things I don’t want to get involved in. Leon’s my friend but I need to still do what’s right for me. If I want to play, I’m playing for the team, it’s not that I’m playing because Leon’s the captain.

“I hope that was not the reason why he became captain. I don’t think that’s the way to make a decision on something as big as this.

“I’ll have to wait and see come July. But, again, it’s a tie that I feel we should be able to win, even if I don’t play.”

There is a decent chance Murray will indeed end up playing against Turkey, even though the match is in the week immediately after Wimbledon, where he will hope to win his first grand-slam title. But the fact alone that Smith is the man in charge will not influence Murray and that means that the new captain will have an even bigger task to bring Britain up from the depths of the competition.

“If you get offered that position, it’s a very difficult one to turn down,” Murray said. “But at the same time, Leon’s very young still in coaching terms and experience on the men’s side of the game. He’s obviously worked a lot on the junior side, but on the men’s side he’s inexperienced. It’s a big job. He was working with the juniors, and now he’s head of men’s tennis and Davis Cup captain.

“It’s a huge, huge responsibility for him. It’s going to be very difficult, and he needs to make sure he surrounds himself with the right people to help him and give him that experience, guys that have been there before, and have been involved in the Davis Cup. It’s very different from coaching the juniors, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.”

The response of Jamie Murray, Andy’s older brother and a player that Smith may want to bring back into the Davis Cup fold, will also have told the new captain that he has a long way to go if he is to convince Andy to make himself available.

“Do you honestly think this will make him play?! So transparent”, Jamie said in a rather succinct Tweet.

Despite being at pains to make it clear that he had played no role in Smith’s appointment, Murray said he wished his old friend well.

“It’s a big responsibility for him,” he said. “I need to speak to him about it, as a friend more than anything, because I want him to do well and obviously be successful. It’s a big responsibility for him. It’s going to be tough. But if he really wants to do it and he believes in himself enough, then I’m sure he can do a good job.”

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